When I Say Empathy, This Is What I Mean


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I had my wisdom teeth extracted a week ago and the two words I have learned you don’t want to hear in relation to teeth are “dry” and “socket.” For the last week I have been in the business of pain management and have taken more ibuprofen than I have in the last twenty years.

After doing some research, I found that clove oil is a great natural remedy for this pain. I had to travel to Oregon this week on business and stopped at the first pharmacy I could find. I walked to the counter and asked if they had clove oil and fortunately they did.

I know you’re probably asking “Where is he going with this?” I’m getting there. After I asked for the clove oil, the kind lady behind the counter asked what was happening. I told her it was my wisdom teeth. She responded the way a good parent responds when they realize you’re really sick and not just trying to get out of school. She simply said “I’m so sorry. I hope this helps.” I left with the feeling that someone knew the pain I was experiencing and felt a sense of loyalty toward that pharmacy.

What this lady so kindly modeled for us is called EMPATHY. Empathy is something that comes naturally for some and for others, it’s a matter of recognizing queues and knowing how to respond appropriately. Regardless of where you stand, here’s a simple lesson you can learn regarding empathy:

  • Dare To Engage Your Customer- The lady behind the counter asked how I was doing.
  • Read The Cues- All I had to do was say “wisdom teeth” and she realized I must be experiencing pain.
  • Respond Accordingly- She didn’t have to do or say much. Simply responding with something like “I’m so sorry” is all that was needed

It’s really that simple. At the very core of empathy is recognizing that your customers are people too. Most people find great value in meaningful connection with other people. Dare to celebrate successes and joys with your customers and show your support for their pains and concerns.

Back to my teeth. They still hurt but the clove oil really is amazing. Thanks for asking.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeremy Watkin
Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Support and CX at NumberBarn. He has more than 20 years of experience as a contact center professional leading highly engaged customer service teams. Jeremy is frequently recognized as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, and more. When not working he's spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis.


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